The early Church Fathers fall into three basic categories: Apostolic Fathers, ante-Nicene Church Fathers, and post-Nicene Church Fathers.
The Apostolic Church Fathers were contemporaries of the apostles and were probably taught by them, carrying on the tradition and teaching of the apostles themselves as their direct successors. Examples of Apostolic Fathers would be Clement and Polycarp.
The ante-Nicene Fathers were those who came after the apostolic fathers and before the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. Such individuals as Irenaeus and Justin Martyr are ante-Nicene fathers.
The post-Nicene church fathers are such noted men as Augustine, John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Eusebius.
Although there were always a few dissenters, for the first thousand years of the Church there was a broad consensus among the Fathers on all the basic tenets of the faith, from Baptism to the Eucharist to the role of Tradition.
As the most respected pastors and theologians of their day, the opinion of the Fathers set the standard for what is considered biblical Christian teaching.
While many people debate theology, few take the time to see what the early Church has said on different theological topics. While the Church Fathers were not infallible, their widespread consensus on issues should give weight to the theological positions they advanced.
Despite the fact that their writings are all available for free online, many people have not taken the time to educate themselves on what the Church Fathers have taught. This website is meant to serve as a tool to help people do just that.